A little of everything

So now I´m sitting at my coffee shop La Place watching all of the people go by in the square again and having some awesome coffee. Today we went to the police station to inquire about extending my visa. Since I´m married it will be no problem but they needed the marriage decree so they can justify me staying in Morocco, otherwise I´d have to border hop for a day. Now there are a few more things I need to do. I must get my passport changed to reflect my married name and I must petition the court to return my birth certificate. I don´t know how much more I want to deal with the court lol. Everything is a process here going to a government building is crazy here. In light of the Brussels attacks everyone has battened down the hatches here even in this small town. The police station now takes your phones when you go in and they search your bags. It´s nothing really because that is the way it is everywhere but you know it was nice to actually go into a government building and it be like it was before 9-11. It was nice to feel that everyone could live in peace and there was no intention to harm anyone. However even in this small town they are erring on the side of caution. I still feel very safe in Morocco just as safe as I felt in the US. Waking up yesterday and seeing the live coverage of the attacks just an hour after it happened was crazy. I mean I´ve heard of the attacks in Turkey and then now this one closer to home. I remember being in the Paris airport one month after the attack there and it was the first time I´ve seen a military presence really. There were soldiers walking with machine guns and their fingers were very near almost on the triggers. It was a real enlightenment that the world we live in now is all because of the 9-11 attacks. I know that as an American I must admit to feeling safe when I was in the US but as the days passed and the world changed we all changed. I remember I only lived a few miles from my parents then and we had 3 plans to meet in case something happened. Now after all these years of living so far away from my parents I really don´t have a plan. I will say that I wouldn´t trade this experience for anything in the world. There is something to be said about seeing the world. I see things very differently than I did when I left the US. I remember being so excited to leave New Mexico and to leave the US that I couldn´t wait. I wanted to be next to my love and it didn´t matter where I had to go to do that. Honestly I would be content with him on an iceberg.
You know I do feel really safe here in Morocco. The people are very peaceful and the more I can speak to them the happier I become. I´ve been pulling sentences out of my ass and just speaking them in Arabic. The other night Mbarek and I just took a walk to another of my favorite coffee shops, Najat Palace and on our way home I just pulled out a sentence. ¨Ana awad do sheree tlata deak hindy¨. He looked at me and he was so proud. I told him I wanted to buy 3 turkeys. He looks at me and responds… Schno tna ha mook­­.. He asked me if I was crazy. Of course he knows the answer to that. I am crazy or I wouldn´t be here.
Now the funniest thing is happening. I have this man standing in front of me and I have no idea what in the hell he wants. He´s just standing here watching me type. LOl I´d like to think he´s admiring my natural beauty and is very interested in watching me type. However I know that´s not the case. Lucky for me the waiter who knows me ran him off but then he came back and when he came back Mbarek was behind him. Come to find out this man is not poor but he begs for money on the street. He carries his little coffee cup around and begs for money, coffee and cigarettes. His family owns a big farm but he doesn´t like to work so he comes to the city to beg for money. See it´s the same everywhere really.
So this is a small town and to tell you how small it is you can walk the whole town and only walk about 5 miles total across town and back. I prefer to walk or ride my bike but like this morning it´s only 1 mile from our house to the police station so we take a taxi. I asked why can´t we just walk. Well here going to a government building can take you all day so it´s best to go on and get there then be prepared to wait. No one makes appointments here you just show up and wait, it reminds me of the county clerks offices in the US but here you don´t take a number. What´s funny is when we were going around getting all of our papers to get married we went to so many governemnt buildings it would make your head spin and in all of them it was the very same. If you were doing business at the counter you had someone standing right next to you and they would just plop their paperwork down with yours and wait for you to be done with your business all while listening to your business too. Here there is a dimented view of personal space geeez. I like to maintain a handshake distance between those I meet and for those who I´m not meeting I don´t want them rubbing shoulders with me.. well just because. So literally this morning we waited and waited. Everything is still logged in ledgers so they log you in a handwritten book when you enter the police station then they just kinda turn you loose in there to find who you need. You find the door of the office you have business in and knock on the door. Very few people have secretaries which is kinda cool because you kinda force the person you have business with to deal with you. I like that actually. But the crazy part is it´s always see the person then come back tomorrow. I´ll be happy when we just don´t have to do all that anymore. So to give you all an idea of how much we´ve had to go through I´m gonna outline it for you.
1. I had to bring with me a FBI background check which didn´t come in time so I had to petition the state of New Mexico for a background check. My last paycheck stubs to prove I can and did hold a job in the US. A statement from my doctor in the US that I didn´t have STD´s, AIDS or any other contageous diseases. I had to have a physical and a statement detailing all of my RX´s. Birth Certificate and my passport.
Once I got here….
2. Mbarek had to go to his home town to get copies of his birth certificate 8 of them.
3. Mbarek had to go to Meknes, the county seat, of where he was born to get his certificates stamped.
4. We went to Casablanca to the US Consulate where I payed $100 USD to get two pieces of paper. A certified copy of my passport and a statement from the Consulate giving me permission to marry Mbarek.
5. Then to Rabat to another government building to get those two papers from the Consulate stamped and pay $4.00 USD for 8 stamps a total of $32.00 USD.
6. Then to another building in Rabat to get those papers stamped yet again. This was my request to the Moroccan Government for permission to marry Mbarek. Another $10.00 USD.
Oh and a visit to the doctor here to obtain a health certificate stating that we were in good health. I forgot that but I didn´t want to go back and re number everything. That cost us $40.00 USD.
7. Take all of the papers to the certified translator. Everything had to be translated into Arabic eventhough some of the papers we had obtained in Rabat were in French. $250.00 USD.
8. All of the translated papers had to be taken to who I call The Man. A person you go to when you want to get married even if it´s Moroccans marrying each other everyone goes to this man. He then makes copies of everything.
9. Take all of the translated documents with the copies to another building to get those stamped to certify that those are the in fact copies of the original documents.
10. Take those stamped papers back to The Man. He then submits those to the court.
11. Go to the courthouse to pick up the papers and take them to the police station. This took hours because the woman wasn´t in her office then once she returned people bulled in front of us eventhough we were the first ones there.
12. Wait for the police to call you for your interview. This took a couple of days.
13. Interview with the police. They ask you all kinds of questions about your education and jobs. They want to know how much money you made and they investigate both of you. They run background checks on you and even call your neighbors. They asked me where I was sleeping and I told them with his mother and sister. Because here Mbarek can get arrested for sleeping in the same room with an unmarried woman who is not his relative. They ask you about sexual relations because it´s illegal to have sex before marriage.
14. They call Mbarek back to ask him more questions about his income.
15. The papers were sent to the courthouse, the judge signs them and then returns them back to The Man.
16. Go to The Man for a review of the paperwork making sure everything is correct all the information is right. Submit that to the judge.
17. Judge signs the paperwork returns it to The Man. We go to sign those papers and we have to decide on a dowry amount. Here in Morocco, under Islamic law, Mbarek has to give me a dowry. So we settled on an amount and that was submitted to the court.
18. Back to The Man…this time we sign our paperwork and the book. The book is the offical book so when we signed that I became Ms. Mbarek Harcharas….. finally. But that´s not it. We had to pay the man more. More you ask. Yes everytime we went to the man we had to pay. He wrote the marriage decree and submitted it to the court.
19. Back to The Man to pick up our marriage decree and take that to the court yet again. Finally with one last stamp and a lick n stick stamp we were finally married.
After tallying it all up we spent about $1000 USD here in Morocco to get married. I bet none of you ever thought it was such a process. According to what I´ve read it´s one of the most difficult places in the world to get married. If the US made it that difficult alot of people would give up. Keep in mind we started this process one month after I arrived. The police even asked us why we waited so long. What a month is long well I suppose. Most people who get married here to foreigners manage to do this in about 3 weeks and most live in a larger town so everything is close by. Also most who marry from here are looking for a visa to somewhere so they want to do it quick. Mbarek and I waited because we just wanted to make sure that we were a really good fit for each other. We are both in our 40´s and just were making sure. He really didn´t want to rush into it because he wanted to be sure that I was happy here and that I really wanted to stay here. See many people, and yes this happened to a friend of mine here in Casablanca, rush into getting married, then the woman goes back home to get ready to move here and in the mean time she changes her mind and never returns thus leaving the man in limbo. In order to get divorced here both parties have to be here to sign the paperwork but if the woman or man never returns here to Morocco then the person here is stuck. They can´t get married again. And let me tell you it happens more often than not. In fact Mbarek was warned, even after I arrived, to not marry me. They told him that I wouldn´t ever live here and I´d leave him then he´d be up shit creek to ever get married again. Well that is certainly not the case but I can understand why he´d be so cautious. It has really caused major problems in my friend´s case and this was many years ago. I don´t know if he´s divorced yet even after all this time.
……………………………………………………… You know Mbarek told me that people here will pay me money to sit with them and have conversations with US people over the internet. Interesting way of making money I think. Maybe that would be a change in pace from everyone who I meet here that speaks English wanting to talk to me about the politics of my country. And to tell you all the truth these people here don´t like Obama. That´s usually the first thing out of their mouth… they ask, ¨how about your Obama¨. Ha ha ha I tell them I didn´t vote for him. LOL. Then they immediately ask who I´m voting for in this election. I can´t escape it even if I wanted to. Ok so I think I´ve talked enough today.
Ciao and may God heal Belgium.

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